‘Sidewalk to Catwalk’ Accessory Designer Brings Bohemian Luxury to Doctors and Nurses This Mother’s Day
By Rachel Saltzman
In the city that never sleeps, things have become a lot quieter. The Novel Coronavirus, often shortened to COVID-19, has decimated New York. Even as local and state governments are making loose preparations to reopen the economy, the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the United States continues to reinforce the crucial need for social distancing and self-quarantine. But life must march on; Mother’s Day is around the corner, yet many find themselves in a situation where spending quality time with Mom is impossible (at least, in a physical sense). Times are especially trying for older Moms living alone or in nursing homes, as the loved ones they normally rely on are physically separate. Many are pondering ways to show Mom love and appreciation while social distancing, as they are strictly quarantined in assisted living facilities with no visitations allowed.
Jewelry, accessories, and fashion designer Monique Leshman thinks about her mom every day, especially now that a global pandemic is making it nearly impossible to communicate with her in-person. Leshman’s mother, Betty, is having a particularly bumpy experience as a new inpatient for an assisted living facility. Stubbornly independent for years, Leshman’s mother was recently admitted to the hospital after falling and breaking her hip bone when she was alone in her home. With the restrictions implemented to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, Monique has not been able to take care of and spend time with her mother despite wanting desperately to do so. Now in need of life-changing surgery, Betty must endure the aftermath of the operation without her daughter’s reassuring presence. Like many who are lucky to still have Mom around, Monique cannot imagine spending Mother’s Day without Betty, but such is the unfortunate reality while COVID-19 still plagues the city.
And yet out of strife comes inspiration; Betty’s admittance to the hospital instigated in Monique a concept for senior giving, a gift that would be a sensible solution for strict quarantine and social distancing guidelines. In a video added to her brand’s Instagram (@monique_leshman) on April 29th, Leshman describes the basic idea and her reasoning behind it: “So, I came up with this amazing concept for senior giving…[something] that would make sense long-term, versus flowers that die. They don’t last forever, but jewelry does.” The result of Leshman’s creativity is a limited time gift packaging offer, inspired by her own mother, called B-Cause of Betty. Each B-Cause of Betty gift package includes several hand-selected, curated jewelry pieces from Leshman’s collection that can be chosen to best match Mom’s personal style. Each accessory is designed to bring joy and fashion to older mothers during a time that makes gift-giving difficult. “I’ve curated the event with seniors in mind, items that I know my mother would wear.”
Leshman offers three levels of customization, with price levels based on the contents of each package. The basic package costs only $25 (in addition to a $5 shipping fee), and includes a pair of earrings, a bracelet, and a personalized Mother’s Day card. The middle package costs $50 (free shipping) and includes everything in the basic package plus a necklace and a package of candy for her sweet tooth. The deluxe package costs $70 (also free shipping), and includes everything in the middle package, plus a puzzle book to keep Mom’s mind busy, a variety of sweet tooth treats, and a secret gift chosen by Leshman herself.
But these special packages are about more than money, and Monique is not just thinking about her mother. With so many people suddenly unemployed and unsure of what happens next, Monique feels it is imperative that she offers something fun and affordable without adding to the chaos caused by COVID-19. Regardless of how many packages she sells, she plans on giving away multiple packages to organizations such as Dress for Success, a global non-profit dedicated to helping women achieve economic independence through support networks, development tools, and professional attire. Leshman also intends on giving packages to the nurses and doctors on staff at her neighborhood New York University Langone Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital, where her mother is currently admitted. She says she wants to show the staff how much she and other residents appreciate everything they are doing to fight COVID-19, especially the folks at NYU Langone Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital who helped her mother beat cancer on three separate occasions.
Leshman refers to herself as a “streetailer”, a fashion mogul who arrived in New York City as a street vendor over 25 years ago to sell her bohemian luxury designs. Today, she still sets up her tables on the Northwest corner of Spring Street and West Broadway in Soho, attracting curious passerby who may or may not realize that similar pieces have adorned the likes of Beyoncé and the Real Housewives of Atlanta in magazines and on TV. She also offers digital shopping and styling for those who can’t hitch a quick ride to on the subway. Her online service, “Get Styled Live by Monique,” is a 15-minute live video style session with Leshman herself, complimentary with any purchase over $75. If your shopping cart is on the smaller side, you can choose to pay the difference for your own Get Styled Live session. No matter how you shop, Monique Leshman is guaranteed to have a trendy necklace, purse, or tunic to take any outfit from Streetwalk to Catwalk. Take Betty’s word for it.